New database targets economically distressed places for job creation

Hillside and small Appalachian town

The Upjohn Institute has launched a database that reports data on economic distress across various geographic units. The database aims to help federal, state and local policymakers – or people who want to influence policy – target distressed places for assistance.

The database provides an interactive economic distress map and downloadable data to compare levels of employment opportunity across communities. It uses the prime-age employment rate, the ratio of employment to population for persons aged 25-54, to identify areas that need more job opportunities.

The database draws from a report by Timothy Bartik, "How State Governments Can Target Job Opportunities to Distressed Places," and an accompanying policy brief, "How State Governments Can Help Distressed Places." The report identifies policy options to increase job opportunities in distressed places with the help of federal and state governments.

The creators of the database have highlighted the importance of targeting distressed communities, as there are huge differences in the availability of good jobs from place to place, and those differences lead to vastly different types of economic opportunities for residents. Focusing on distressed places can address these inequalities and lead to greater social benefits per taxpayer dollar invested.

Explore the economic distress database and interactive map:

Date: April 26, 2023